“That’s a documentary …”

“That’s a documentary …”

A friend watched, along with her son, “The Choice 2012,” broadcast Tuesday night by PBS. She told him after the program had ended, “Now that’s a documentary.”

The good news, of course, is that PBS’ “Frontline” program will be re-broadcast several more times before the Nov. 6 presidential election. It would do any voter well to watch this two-hour special presentation if they have any questions about the backgrounds of the two men competing to become president of the United States.

“The Choice” fills in many blanks, answers many questions and paints a thorough and detailed picture of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Democratic and Republican nominees respectively, one of whom will take the oath of office next January.

I don’t want to give away the store to those who haven’t yet seen this important documentary (which will air on public television’s KACV). But one does learn a few key points from this broadcast.

  • Both men suffered crushing political defeats early in their public careers: Romney lost to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in a run for Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat; Obama was defeated in a hotly contested race for the U.S. House by Rep. Bobby Rush in Chicago. They both hate losing and both men decided that neither defeat would define their political legacy.
  • Mitt Romney had a close relationship with his father, the late former Michigan Gov. George Romney; Barack Obama had virtually no relationship with his own father, the late Barack Obama Sr.
  • Romney was reared in what many would call a “traditional” family; Obama’s upbringing was decidedly “non-traditional.”
  • Both men have skeletons in their closets that neither man wants to mention as he campaigns for president: Romney’s ancestors practiced polygamy in Mexico; Obama was a frequent drug user in high school.

The race figures to go down to the wire. “The Choice” presents a comprehensive look at both of these men.

Viewers will learn of the ups and downs that both men have endured, which in its way binds the two men in an odd sort of way.

Documentaries by definition are not screeds designed to inflict damage on their subjects. “The Choice 2012” succeeds gloriously in fulfilling a documentary’s fundamental mission.

Watch it.



  1. Ellen Robertson Green · · Reply

    John, can you mention the dates and times this program will be rebroadcast?

  2. The program will re-air at 8 p.m. on Oct. 26. But hey, watch it online too, right here:

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